By using farmer-used Apps and AI technician devices, it ensures the best and balanced matings are made by Irish dairy females
With the nickname ‘Tinder for Cows’, a matchmaking service is giving farmers in Carlow and across Ireland the opportunity to swipe left and right to find the perfect mate for their cows - producing offspring which deliver more valuable milk or beef and - in the case of dairy cows - less emissions per litre of milk.
Fundamentally a dating service for cows, Sire Advice works through the ICBF national database of information such as weight, fertility, ancestry, milk production and quality – but sadly not music or film preferences – to help farmers match the right cow with the right bull using the breeding application.
This information can then be transmitted to farmer-used Apps and AI technician devices to ensure the best and balanced matings are made by Irish dairy females.
More than 4,000 farmers are currently using Sire Advice which is part of the HerdPlus service, developed by the ICBF and based on research from the world-leading SFI research centre VistaMilk, based in Co Cork. Usage has steadily increased with new innovations being added regularly to this unique bovine matchmaker.
At a time of rising demand for quality Irish dairy products both domestically and internationally, the App is helping farmers increase revenues while meeting global demand for more sustainably produced quality Irish grass-fed dairy produce.
It is also cementing Ireland’s global reputation as a centre of excellence in the development of agri-tech tools and the real-world, on-farm use of those tools.
Donagh Berry, Director of VistaMilk, said:
“It might sound amusing to have a service which is a sort of Tinder for cows, but the technology delivers very serious economic, social, and environmental benefits.
“Breeding programmes are, by their very nature, ‘cumulative and permanent’. VistaMilk’s research has already proven that by adopting best practice in this area of farming, we can increase productivity and profitability while at the same time reducing the carbon footprint of Irish dairy produce.
“Our findings to date show that these breeding activities alone are reducing emissions per litre of milk by close to 1% per annum, with a 14% reduction in the last two decades.”
Dan O’ Riordan of ICBF Said:
“HerdPlus has benefits across both the beef and dairy industries. By generating higher genetic merit females for farmers, this will help future dairy profitability and help breed more sustainable dairy cows for future generations with a reduced impact on the environment.
“The new beef-on-dairy mating options in Sire Advice will help maximise the beef potential of dairy-beef calves born and will facilitate better overall integration of the dairy and beef systems in Ireland.
“For consumers, it means they continue to have access to high-quality, affordable, nutritious dairy and beef products secure in the knowledge that they are produced sustainably.
“And let’s not forget the cows themselves – they are more efficient, more productive and individually emit less biogenic methane per litre of milk thus helping to achieve the nation’s climate goals.”
VistaMilk expects uptake of HerdPlus to keep increasing as the service continues to prove itself. With many other positive innovations (in the areas of soil, pasture cow and food) being developed through coordination and collaboration by several hundred PhD and postdoc researchers, Vistamilk believes the future is bright (green) for Irish farming.
Professor Berry continued: “When this type of practice is combined with other research projects underway at VistaMilk – different plant mixes in the pasture, carbon capture studies, proper measurement of emissions and nutritional supplements to reduce those emissions – the sustainability of the Irish dairy sector can be further enhanced.”
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